T Nation

Benching Strategies/Experiences


Hey all -

I'm coming off of some shoulder work and basically started benching a month or so again after a long hiatus, opting instead for DB work for all my presses. The shoulder is getting stronger and the bench is continually improving.

I'm using the Wendler 5/3/1 approach for my benching as well as other assisting lifts (floor presses, db's, triceps work, boards, etc.)

I know there are a bunch of strong dudes (dudettes) in the SS forum, many of you compete or are just freaking strong.

What I'd like to hear from folks is what programs have you used with success to push your bench numbers up? Was it a strict programe (eg Westside, Madcow, etc), or just a rep/set scheme you did? Hybrid approach? Frequency? Did you drop other things for a period of time to bring your bench up?

I know there are tons out there, and I've been catching up on many, I'd just like to hear about your successes or favorite approaches THAT HAVE WORKED FOR YOU. I'm not looking for "try this or that", I'd like to hear from your experiences (good or bad).



5/3/1. CG inclines, DB cleans for assistance. paused one or two boards would be a good idea possibly also. I find a paused one board hits my upper pecs quite well, and builds power out of the bottom of the bench without destroying my shoulder health.


not tha I’m really strong or anything. I’m just kicking serious ass doing 5/3/1.


I made pretty dramatic gains by doing max effort weak point work just recently. My best (raw) bench was 130x3 and 130 paused, but that had gone down a bit. In 3 or so weeks of workouts of doing 3x3 pin presses from chest level (relaxing at the bottom), i hit 140x1 and 137.5kg paused in a comp. I have heard that this exercise isn’t recommended for advanced lifters due to risk of injury (i think it was jim wendler in the max effort book: don’t quote me), but it seemed to work very well. Having said that, floor press may be just as good.

Last year when i got to 130 i was doing heavy triples every week, then heavy singles on the weekend. The heavy triples would be a warm up, then a triple, then maybe a few doubles, until i could only get one. In a month of doing that i went from 122.5 for 3 to 130x3.

A few years ago i did a routine called ‘blast your bench’. I made some gains on it, but i don’t know if it was a particularly good program. As an indication you’re benching every day for 3 weeks. You’re either doing a day of 5x15, 5x3 or 10,8,6,4,2. Each time the same day comes around you try and push it up. I think i got an easy 10kg gain from that also, 110 to 120. Having said that you couldn’t run that program often.

Going even further back, i was excited about being able to bench 100kg and i did it as often as possible. So i’d go into the gym and hit maybe 10 singles at 100, and that helped.

So… I guess all i can say is, whenever i smash bench with ME work my bench goes up, but then plateaus. I think you can make very good gains in a month of hard work, but don’t expect it to keep coming. I’m going to try dave tate’s bench program next, and after my next comp i’ll be doing 5/3/1. that sounds promising for consistent gains because of the built in deload.


i found heavy, low rep DB work really helped. like 3-5 reps x 3 sets

people may advocate that its a bit risky but if you build up over a few weeks to get used to it it can really help the BB bench i find.

was doing 120lb DBs 3x3 (at the end of my workout so after BB bench, back work and military, so not fresh)

also found doing them towards the end when tired made stabilizing even harder which helped alot with carryover for BB bench.

while DBs are known to help with strength right off the chest (like first 3-5 inches) i actually found a VERY noticeable increase in my BB bench from about 6-12 inches by training heavy DBs. really moved alot quicker which obviously helped with locking out bigger weights and therefore a higher bench as felt more explosive overall.

Finally, i know you are more of a bodybuilder guy, i found the heavy DBs really helped with chest development.

Not sure if this is what you are looking for but hope it helps.